Teaching Pronunciation: Word Stress (Rules)

Understanding Syllables

  1. To understand word stress, it helps to understand syllables.
  2. Every word is made from syllables.
  3. Each word has one, two, three or more syllables.
  4. The words are divided according  to its pronunciation

One syllable : Dog
Two syllables : or-ange
Three syllables : Ex-pen-sive
Four syllables: In-te-res-ting

What is Word Stress?

In English, we do not accentuate  every  syllable in one word, we accentuate only one syllable.

For  example

  1. Teach-er
  2. Plas-tic

The stress  can be   found   in any syllable  but it depends  on the  characteristics   of the  word, some people  rely on  experience  but not  all  of us  can rely  on  it   and  that’s  why  we  learn   the  word stress  rules  or  we succeed  with  a  combination  of experience and rules

Word stress rules

  1. One  word  has  only one stress
  2. We  stress vowels and not consonants

Click  on the  following   external links  to  know more  about

  1. word stress rules : Word stress rules
  2. word stress quiz: word stress quiz

In my own experience  as a  university  student I  studied  the  rules  for stressing   words  and I practiced stressing   the most common  words  then I verified them in my  dictionary  .You will  probably find one  of these  two ways as  indication  of  word stress in  your own dictionary.

Plas-tic : /plæs’tIk/


Plas-tic : /’plæs tIk/

Rules to take into account


  1. Asleep
  2. Awake
  3. Relate
  4. Return

The Stress is in the syllable  before the  ial, ual, ian, ient, cious, tious, ic, ible, ity, tion , logy , graphy , meter or sion sound

Dictation Stress

  1. Communication
  2. Instruction
  3. Television
  4. Dictation
  5. Memorial
  6. Visual
  7. Politician
  8. Sufficient
  9. delicious
  10. Edible
  11. Classify
  12. Biology

The Stress is in the syllable before the er sound

Reporter Stressed

  1. Reporter
  2. Presenter
  3. Destroyer
  4. Teacher

The Stress is two syllables before the -cy, , -phy and -gy sound.

Democracy Stress

  1. Democracy
  2. Geology
  3. Photography

The  Stress is on the  first part of compound nouns

Underworld Stress

  1. Blackbird
  2. Greenhouse
  3. Bedroom
  4. Sunrise
  5. Underworld
  6. Underwear
  7. Haircut
  8. Breakfast

Compound verbs are stressed in the second part

Understand Stress

  1. Underline
  2. Overturn
  3. Overflow
  4. Understand
  5. Underscore

Additional Information


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